How little can you spend on good-enough lighting? [Setups]

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Adjustable lighting suitable for video calls need not cost much.
Adjustable lighting suitable for video calls need not cost much.
Photo: Kwipz@Reddit

The big open window shown in the photo above certainly helps keep the place lit for free in bright daylight. But what does Redditor Kwipz do about cheap lighting for the darker hours?

They spend a few bucks. Literally.

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What’s being lit up in this setup?

As for the setup itself, Kwipz runs a 13-MacBook Pro M1 with a 27-inch Dell high-def monitor (2560 x 1440 pixel resolution). A couple of other Redditors commented glowingly on the quality Dell has put across with its displays recently.

On a spacious Dawntrees desk pad sits a Logitech G Pro Wireless Gaming Mouse and a Logitech MX Keys wireless keyboard — which is actually a minor source of light, as Kwipz can adjust its backlighting.

But we’re here to talk about real lighting. Like the good-enough lighting that makes you look not terrible on camera. Kwipz knows about that.

Good-enough lighting: How little can you spend?

When it comes to lighting up the space, Kwipz, who is a working student, spared every expense. And yet succeeded.

Redditors were curious about the methods applied.

The blue light in the right back corner of the desk near the window is an LED from the store Five Below. It cost just $5. (With rare exceptions, everything at Five Below costs $5 or less.) The light comes with a remote control that lets you select any of 15 colors.

Besides natural light and the LED, Kwipz uses a 12-inch selfie ring light mounted on the wall just above and behind the monitor. A webcam perches in it.

Purchased on Amazon, it most likely cost somewhere between $10 and $30, according to our exhaustive analysis over several seconds the other day. We bet Kwipz spent about $15.

Budget DIY applies to assembly, too

You often see ring lights mounted on stands, arms or tripods, but this one just sits on the wall. Even so, it serves a practical purpose.

“I have the controller for it right behind my wireless charger and it puts webcam clarity on 10,” Kwipz wrote in reply to a question.

Another person wanted to know how the ring light mounting went. The response sheds light on extreme-budget DIY.

“I just put a screw in the wall and it sits on it,” Kwipz replied. “My screw was in a little too deep so I have a twist tie securing it a little bit. but yea, just a screw in the wall.”

The grand total

There you have it. A multicolor LED on the desk for $5. A ring light for around $15. A screw and a twist tie for, what, a few cents?

How little can you spend on good-enough lighting? In this case about $20, all in.

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If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.